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NY Times editorial: Duterte partly to blame for Marawi conflict escalation

A New York Times editorial said President Rodrigo Duterte was “partly to blame for the escalation” of the ongoing conflict with the Maute group in Marawi City.

In a piece titled “How ISIS Grew in the Philippines on June 15,” the newspaper said: “Mr. Duterte’s braggadocio is partly to blame for the escalation of the conflict.”

The NY Times cited Duterte’s statement in December last year, wherein he dared the Maute to “go ahead, do it” when the ISIS-inspired group said they will “go down upon Marawi to burn the place.”

The newspaper, which has been critical of Duterte’s war on drugs, said Duterte should “restart negotiations with militant groups.”

It said Duterte’s “strongman tactics” and his threat to extend the declaration of martial law nationwide “will not address the fundamental problems that have fueled militant movements on Mindanao since the 1970s: grinding poverty; lawless zones, where criminal gangs reign; and overcrowded prisons, which are a boon to Islamist recruiters.”

“The most urgent need now is to ratchet down the fight in Marawi and press Mr. Duterte to restart negotiations with militant groups,” it said.

The newspaper has long been critical of Duterte, previously publishing editorial pieces titled “Donald Trump Embraces Another Despot” and “Let the World Condemn Duterte,” a news feature called “Becoming Duterte: The Making of a Philippine Strongman,” and a video documentary “When A President Says, I’ll Kill You.”

In March, Malacanang linked the NY Times’ features on Duterte and his war on drugs to alleged ouster plots against the administration.

“NYT’s very obvious demolition work flies in the face of the very high approval of PPRD enjoys . The newspaper tries to stir global outrage in a nation that welcomes its newfound peace and order,” presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement then

The latest NY Times editorial comes weeks after members of the Maute group stormed Marawi City as government troops attempted to arrest terror leader Isnilon Hapilon, prompting Duterte to declare martial law in Mindanao for 60 days.

“While President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines was bragging about his brutal war on drugs, the Islamic State was consolidating its sway over Islamist rebel groups on the island of Mindanao,” the NY Times said.

“The extent to which ISIS has succeeded is now alarmingly evident, as a pitched battle between Philippine troops and Islamist militants for control of the largely Muslim city of Marawi enters its fourth week,” it added. —Kathrina Charmaine Alvarez/JST, GMA News